Western Environmental Law Center

Rating: 4.33 stars   6 reviews


1216 Lincoln Street Eugene OR 97401 USA


The Western Environmental Law Center uses the power of the law to safeguard the wildlife, wildlands, and communities of the American West. We envision a West with thriving, resilient wildlands, waters, and wildlife; a region powered by clean, renewable energy; and communities that are rooted in an ethic of conservation. We combine our legal skills with sound conservation biology and environmental science to address major environmental issues in the West in the most strategic and effective manner. We work at the national, regional, state, and local levels; and in all three branches of government. WELC integrates national policies and regional perspective with the local knowledge of our 140+ partner groups to implement smart and appropriate place-based actions. WELC has a highly experienced team of expert attorneys, conservation biologists and Western policy experts. We work close to the ground, with offices in Oregon, Montana, New Mexico, and Washington. As a public interest law firm, WELC does not charge clients and partners for services, but relies instead on charitable gifts from individuals, families, and foundations to accomplish our mission.


We have secured critical victories for the environment and communities of the American West. Our top victories of 2015 are: Safeguarding Imperiled Canada Lynx Through New Trapping Rules in Montana: We established a "lynx protection zone" in occupied lynx habitat in northwest Montana and the Greater Yellowstone region. The protection zone restricts the size and placement of traps that catch and sometimes kill lynx, and requires bobcat trappers to check their traps every 48 hours. According to the best available science, these changes will significantly reduce or eliminate the risk of accidental lynx trapping, and the likelihood of injury or death if an animal is caught. In Montana, we were also able to maintain the closure of the wolverine trapping season for an additional two years. Protecting Old-Growth Forests, Spotted Owls, and Salmon: We defeated a 50-year logging plan for 150,000 acres of forest in Siskiyou County, California, which allowed aggressive logging of spotted owl habitat and granted permits to harm or kill endangered species. The logging would have also impacted federally protected salmon, steelhead, and the fisher, an animal proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Securing a Historic Win for Climate Change: Representing eight youths, we filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington demanding that the state take serious action on climate change by using the most recent climate science when crafting its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The King County Superior ruled in our favor to have the Washington Department of Ecology to reconsider its denial of the youths' petition. This is the first case in the United States in which a state agency was ordered to consider the best available climate science when regulating carbon dioxide emissions. For more results on our work, please visit: http://www.westernlaw.org/successes

Target demographics:

safeguard wildlife, wildlands, and communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year:

140 partner and client organizations

Geographic areas served:

the American West


Wildlands: Defending and restoring the natural heritage of the West Wildlife: Protecting and recovering wildlife species indigenous to the West Climate and Energy: Fighting dirty energy while promoting a clean, renewable energy future in the West

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Reviews for Western Environmental Law Center

Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a WELC supporter for many years and a board member for going on three years. As such, I have been privy to and witnessed the growth of WELC, from both a program and a positive impact perspective. Much of the credit for this growth is attributable to very good leadership on the part of the Executive Director, Greg Costello, and the talented and dedicated staff attorneys. WELC is invested in providing its constituents with exemplary litigation and non-litigation support in a number of critical areas within the environmental law arena. The consistently positive results obtained by WELC in pursuing its goals and those of its clients speaks volumes with respect to its expertise in this area. I strongly suggest that anyone who is interested in supporting an on-the-ground environmental law organization that consistently achieves sought after results should seriously consider supporting WELC. If you are interested in seeing/hearing more about WELC, check out its website - www.westernlaw.org.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

serving as a board member.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

increase its funding and thus its ability to make a real difference in the environmental law arena.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I'll admit it, I'm biased. The Western Environmental Law Center works to protect things I care a lot about: old growth forests, wildlife habitat, clean air, drinking water for local communities...the list goes on. They provide policy guidance, scientific advice, and legal representation to conservation groups, state and local governments, individuals and small businesses across the West who want to protect their communities and quality of life. And WELC doesn't charge for their services. Instead, they rely on donations and grants from individuals and foundations. Over the past 35 years - first as the University of Oregon's Environmental Law Clinic and now (since 1993) as an independent non-profit organization - the Western Environmental Law Center has worked with hundreds of partner groups, individuals and businesses. In that time, it has become an incredibly effective advocate for protecting and defending the things that make the American West so special: its breathaking landscapes; its wild, free-flowing rivers, its crystal-clear air; its majestic old growth forests; its spectacular wildlife; and - most importantly - the quality of life for the people who live and visit there.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As a student in the University of Oregon's Environmental Law Clinic during the late 1970s, and as a Board member since 2003, I've had first-hand exposure to all that this talented, dedicated team of lawyers, scientists and policy experts has accomplished.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Add communications capacity so that more people would learn about the amazing work done by WELC's lawyers, biologist, and staff - as well as the importance of what they're doing to protect water supplies, wildlife, and America's Natural Heritage.

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How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

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How did you learn about this organization?

see above

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see above

What is its top priority in the long run?

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